Review by Dan Skip Allen
National Geographic has been known to film everything from volcanoes to the rarest species on Earth. The men and women who work for them climb the tallest mountains and explore the deepest depths of the oceans, help bring Indigenous life into a new perspective, and go to the farthest reaches of the planet and beyond. Their films are breathtaking, to say the least. Having watched my share of them over the years, I can honestly say Epic Adventures With Bertie Gregory made me want to get off my couch and do something more productive and rewarding with my life.
This series explores the African wilderness along a dried-up river bed and the deepest darkest oceans in and around Costa Rica and Antarctica. It focuses on several ecological relationships like eagles hunting bats, lions hunting buffalo, whales migrating, sharks getting plankton cleaned off of them, and other sea life feeding on a school of smaller fish rife for the picking. Nature has beauty to it even when it is just living like we are. Getting so close to this wildlife gives one a whole new perspective on what it means to live and survive as well as die and thrive. It all depends on what species this series focuses on from episode to episode.
Nature documentaries usually focus on one animal and its family, and this show focuses on various animals and their behavior. They even give themselves a timetable to achieve their goals: 12, 20, or 30 days to capture what they want in this period. Sometimes there are surprises, and other times, there are unbelievable spectacles to witness. These cameras capture it all up close and personal.
One of the things about these nature documentaries is that they draw in the audience with a narrator, such as Morgan Freeman, or a very engaging subject like Alex Honold in Free Solo. Sometimes, Disney and Nat Geo like to get famous actors, like Will Smith or Chris Hemsworth, to help people get interested in exploring the globe and its many places and secrets. This time out, the host is someone I had never heard of before watching this series: Bertie Gregory. As a host, he is very likable and engaging. His voice — that of an Englishman — is like music to my ears. It's so mellow and calm, but it brings a sense of importance to every word he speaks. I was glued to the screen every moment of this show, mostly because of him.
It's one thing to show all these animals in their habitat, but it's another to show the habitat as a whole. While this show focuses on the animals, it also shows Africa's beautiful forests and wilderness, the blue depths off the coast of gorgeous Costa Rica, and the frigid waters of snow-covered Antarctica. The high shots from the drone, where a drone comes in good hands, are spectacular, especially to see massive fin whale migrations. These special cameras could get into places no human being should be able to get or would want to. That's what makes this series epic, as the title suggests. The scale of the adventure is unbelievable!
Disney, Hulu, and ESPN have done a lot of fantastic documentary work in the past. With the technology at one's disposal today, there is no end to where you can film or how close you can get to something not usually filmable. This show goes to new levels of what is possible, and part of that is the host and his crew. The danger is real, and elements are right up in the face of those watching as much as the crew and host feel them. The creatures, from lions, eagles, dolphins, sharks, and whales, are mesmerizing to behold. It makes me want to go out and explore this amazing, wild, incredible world. Thanks to Bertie Gregory, we can enjoy it from the comforts of our own homes on our television screens
Epic Adventures With Bertie Gregory streams on Disney+ beginning September 8. Five out of six episodes reviewed.